Wednesday, July 1, 2009

John Hammond at Haddon Lake Park - 07/01/09

(Photo by Zachary Herrmann)

Every year, I'm continually impressed with the great offering of free summer concerts courtesy of Camden County, NJ. Granted the July 4th show usually sucks -- this year is Marshall Tucker Band opening for Foghat -- but it's been nice to catch the likes of Leon Russell, Graham Parker, Duke Robillard and, tonight, John Hammond without spending a dime.

Hammond was on the top of his game -- unlike his departed friend, Mike Bloomfield, he seems to be riding gracefully on the benefits of relatively clean living. There's not the slightest hint of deterioration in the 66-year-old's voice and his playing ... it's just magnificent. With only an acoustic guitar, a resonator and a harmonica, Hammond kept the park swinging for over 80 minutes of classic blues.

The guy has sort of lived and played it all -- like Bloomfield, he was a young white guy hanging out and playing with all the old, black veterans of the blues. His set covered everything you could think of: Big Joe Williams, Sleepy John Estee, Skip James, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed and a bit of the newer blues via Tom Waits.

In addition to the music, which was a history lesson if and of itself, Hammond recounted many stories about gigging his way from New York to Chicago to Los Angeles and back again in the early 60s, telling little bits about the blues idols he opened for and played with along the way. His approach to the songs was achingly faithful -- beautiful, simple and delivered with the power and conviction of one man, the way the blues should be.

The music was great, the stories were fascinating and as a non-taxpaying dependant, I can say that it truly was (someone else's) money well spent.

No comments:

Post a Comment